Italeri 1/72 CANT Z.501 'Gabbiano'






Three aircraft


Dr. Frank Spahr 


Not currently (2002) in catalogues

 A few weeks ago it was a modeling friend of mine´s birthday, and so I stood in that jam-packed modeling grotto near my place again. They´ve moved recently, but the place is still as crowded as ever with heaps of kits – quite a lot of them come from former collectors (where may they be now? Probably died leaving a heap of a few hundred unbuilt kits to their grieving relatives), and some are hard to find . So I gravitated around a 1/48 Seversky Racer for a while, but finally picked a seaplane. I love seaplanes. Just imagine the moment a seaplane touches down or takes off – it´s magic. Or something. I´m looking forward to the day I´ll build my Hasegawa Emily and weather her to the bones (BTW, Emily is in the household for nearly six years by now – resting in her box). My eyes had fallen on one of those weird italian flying boats from the 30s. At first sight of the box art, it looked as though a racing plane had crash landed on a barge, and someone had erected heavy scaffolding in order to keep the wreckage from tumbling down completely. In a way, a bit like a Mistel. Or like an early Dornier flying boat such as the RS IV.

 Having brought the kit home, doubts started nagging me. Did I really do well in presenting him a kit? In 1/72? To a guy who´s building exclusively 1/48 and above? In the end, I kept the kit for myself and decided on another gift instead. And: He bought that 1/48 Seversky Racer of his own accord in the meantime.


 The Z.501 or Gabbiano (Gull) first flew in 1934 and set some distance records in its early days. During the early part of the war, it was used in an offensive plus the recon role, until its slow speed and meager armament caused a withdrawal to the secondary, mainly the SAR role. Some Gabbianos were exported to Spain during the civil war, some were sold to Romania, and some were used after the italian surrender on the Allied side and for a few years after the war.

 Data in brief:

 Wing span 22.50 m – Length 14.95 m – empty weight 3,850 kg – max. weight 5950 kg – top speed 275 km/h – Range 2,600 km – ceiling 7,000 m – armament 2-3 MG 7.7 mm + up to 500 kg external stores



So here´s what you get from Italeri: I couldn´t quite find out when the kit was molded, but I guess it was in the 70ies. You get two sprues with parts in medium grey plastic and a sprue with clear parts, done with fine raised panel lines and rather heavy fabric detail on the control surfaces. There is neither flash nor sink marks or ejector pin marks in nasty places. The clear parts, although a little thick, are totally clear and will allow a good view of the near empty cockpit unless I do some scratch building.

 Two pilots have to be glued into this puristic interior, a hint to the age of the molds. There are three open machine gun positions. Quite a lot of the parts go into the intricate supports  - aligning them will be a major part of the work. The kit includes a beaching trolley plus a tail support. The instructions are clear, although a little dynamic in parts where there are more arrows than parts (see pic). Color callouts are given for Model Master enamels. Several black and white pics of a completed kit are printed on the instruction sheet.

 Decals by Cartograf give three options: A Spanish plane in an overall silver scheme with black and white stripes, a fascist Italian plane, overall silver with decorative red stripes (and quite a number of them) plus a post-war Italian plane in Blue Angel blue / intermediate blue. The box art plane is not included.

 All in all, it´s an old kit, with a number of flimsy parts, and from what I know of other Italeri kits, I hope for a comparatively smooth build. Masking all those clear parts and those stripes will produce some appropriate language, but I hope the finished kit will be worth it.

 Amongst others, Google found the following websites with some info on the Z.501: 

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